Tony Humphries (musician)

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Tony Humphries
Tony Humphries.jpg
Background information
Born1957 (age 6263)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
OriginNew York City
Occupation(s)DJ, producer
Years active1981–present

Associated acts Todd Terry, Masters at Work, David Morales, Louie Vega, Shep Pettibone

Tony Humphries is an American electronic musician and DJ. He was one of the earliest proponents of house music and has been instrumental in spreading the genre on both sides of the Atlantic. [1] [2]


Humphries' work encompasses studio production and remixes, radio slots on WRKS 98.7 Kiss FM and Hot 97, and DJ residencies at clubs including Club Zanzibar (Newark, New Jersey) and Ministry of Sound in London, UK.

Early life

Born in Brooklyn in 1957, Tony Humphries began collecting records at age ten. [3] Humphries' passion for music was encouraged from a very early age. His father, Rene, had emigrated from Colombia some years earlier, before going on to lead the New York Combo. Rene "El Grande Combo" Humphries, as he was known, performed alongside salsa performers including Tito Puente. [4]

The Zanzibar years

Humphries began DJing at college and got his first professional gig in 1981 at the then-new New York station KISS-FM following a chance encounter with Shep Pettibone. His big break was in 1982, when he was asked by Shep Pettibone to fill in for a mix show on WRKS 98.7 Kiss-FM] in New York. [5] Soon afterward, he was a regular contributor of the station's mastermixes—extended and remixed versions of popular songs—a process that had been pioneered on the station earlier by Pettibone. During most of the 1980s until 1994, Humphries had a mix show that aired on Kiss-FM every Friday and Saturday night. [6]

In 1982, Humphries got a residency at the Club Zanzibar, in Newark, New Jersey, home of the so-called Jersey Sound. [7] [8]

Humphries and Club Zanzibar, alongside the Paradise Garage and its resident DJ Larry Levan, are considered to be the main driving forces behind the creation of garage house music. [2]


By the late 1980s, bootleg tapes of Humphries's Kiss-FM radio shows had begun to make their way across the Atlantic. Alex Patterson from ambient house group The Orb was one such early disciple; "hearing proper DJs like Tony Humphries, that's what really got me into house music." [9]

Humphries's earliest UK appearances were at club nights in London, such as Danny Rampling's Shoom and Norman Jay's High On Hope at Dingwalls. [10]

In the 1990s, as dance music grew in popularity in the UK and throughout Europe, Humphries was given a residency at the London superclub Ministry of Sound. He also recorded for the Ministry of Sound label and launched the Ministry of Sound Sessions series. [11]

Humphries plays regularly at Ibiza clubs such as Pacha. He also appears regularly on Kings of House tours alongside David Morales and "Little" Louie Vega.

Studio work

Humphries has a large back catalogue of studio production work. Remixes spanning a broad number of styles from artists make up the bulk of this output.

Humphries has produced many DJ mixes and compilations. These include his work for Ministry of Sound, London's Fabric, [12] Strictly Rhythm, DMC, and, returning to his roots, his Zanzibar Classics compilations. A notable compilation titled Tony Humphries Choice: A Collection Of Club Zanzibar Classics was released on Azuli Records in 2003, and includes classics like "Take Me Home" by Cher and "Are You For Real" by Deodato featuring Camille. [13]

Selected mix compilations

Selected productions and remixes


Tony Humphries formed his first record label, Yellorange, in 1998. [14] The label was superseded by Tony Records, [15] which he founded in 2006. [16] He left the label in 2016, and TR Records was founded in its place.


Todd Terry cites Tony Humphries and Larry Levan as big influences. [17]

MK, whose remix of “Push the Feeling On” by the Nightcrawlers reached #3 in the UK charts in 1995, also cites Humphries as a major influence. "It helped my production hearing the New York DJs, hearing Tony Humphries, Frankie Knuckles, Masters At Work. I found my missing link." [18]

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  1. "Black History Month: Tony Humphries". BBC.
  2. 1 2 Brewster, Bill; Broughton, Frank (1999). "Chapter Eleven: US Garage". Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey (Updated and Revised ed.). New York: Grove/Atlantic (published 2014). ISBN   978-0-8021-4610-6.
  3. "Tony Humphries Biography". Billboard.
  4. "Tony Humphries Bio". Tony Humphries Official Site.
  5. Lawrence, Tim (30 September 2016). Life and death on the New York dance floor, 1980-1983. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN   9780822361862. OCLC   932385980.
  6. Fikentscher, Kai (24 October 2013). "Music Programming in Contemporary DJ Culture". DJ culture in the mix : power, technology, and social change in electronic dance music. Attias, Bernardo., Gavanas, Anna, 1971-, Rietveld, Hillegonda C. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 126. ISBN   9781623564377. OCLC   859536232.
  7. "Club Zanzibar and Newark's dance revolution". Dangerous Minds.
  8. "Club Zanzibar".
  9. "Interview: The Orb (Dr. Alex Paterson)".
  10. "Nightclubbing: Zanzibar, An Oral History".
  11. "Ministry Of Sound - The Sessions Volume One". Discogs.
  12. "Fabric 04 - Tony Humphries".
  13. "Tony Humphires: Choice - A Collection Of Club Zanzibar Classics".
  14. "Yellorange".
  15. "Tony Records". Tony Records.
  16. "Tony Records".
  17. "Todd Terry Interview".
  18. "MK Interview".